And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me. And he left all, rose up, and followed him. And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them. But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners? And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
– Luke 5:27-32 KJV
Reading this morning, this passage somewhat caught my attention. First, it is about a man named Levi, which is the Hebrew name of which mine, Matthew, an English version of the Greek variant, Mathias. Secondly, was the content.
Levi was a tax collector, but at a time where Israel was not self-ruling. He was a representative of the Roman government, which nation had conquered Israel. Tax collectors were normally people of the nation they served in, and though paid by the government, collected beyond what they were required to collect in taxes, so as to line their own pockets. As such, they were despised by their people as traitors, and also for their selfishness. Like myself, Levi was a sinner.
What surprised the people of Jesus’ day was that He, as a teacher, visited Levi, and fellowshiped with him over a meal. They wanted to know, as at other times in relation to other sinners, why He would spend time with sinners. Levi was a sinner, of that they had no doubt, and Jesus answer did not try to refute that fact, but rather He answered their question by explaining His purpose for being on earth.
“They that are whole need not a physician: but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance”
Levi understood he was sick – he inherited the terminal disease of sin from his father, and likewise would pass it on to his children, for he was sinful, as was his father Adam. Jesus came to bring healing, to give Him a new life through a new birth in the spirit [see Jn. 3].
The pharisees were also sick with that same disease. Though they tried to keep the law in a form, making tithes of even their spices, they were still guilty – as we can even see their sin of pride and lack of charity in this passage. Jesus explained in another place how that it is by loving God and others, in a true, sincere, and Biblical manner, that the law is fulfilled, yet they were keeping the law after a form, while completely missing God in it.
So now we find here, two types of sinners. The first is aware of his guilt, while the second is proudly ignorant, and accusing the other. Jesus did not, at this point, go about to estabilsh the guilt of both, but rather explained His purpose. He came to heal the sick with sin, to call sinners to repentance.
Friend, if you desire healing, you must first acknowledge your disease, and all who descend from Adam are infected, as evidenced by our 100% death rate, for death comes by sin (See Romans). The pharisees here ignored their problem, and so were never healed, never saved, and destined for hell, predestined if you will, by their choice, and God’s foreknowledge of it, but to Levi, salvation came through repentance.
Today, which will you be? The willfully ignorant of your own wickedness before God, or the repentant who receives grace? There are only 2 types of sinners. The third type of person… is the one who has received mercy and grace through Jesus who brings healing. Of such am I. All in this category where of the second kind of sinner, though perhaps at one time the first, they recognized their sin, repented, and have been made as pure as Christ, through His great mercy.
Oh why would you continue on the road to eternal death, to the second death, to the lake of fire? Turn to Christ, and He will make you clean. You will never be pure and clean so long as you stubbornly refuse to acknowledge your sin, but when you turn and repent, He has promised to make you clean!